Summer is Sea Turtle Time in the Brunswick Islands

sea turtle Brunswick Islands

For many people the word “summer” evokes mental images of sandy beaches, gentle waves, glowing sunshine, pearly white sea shells and freshly caught seafood. While these classic coastal elements are key parts of a summer escape to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, locals and visitors alike know that the 45 miles of picturesque, uncrowded beaches bring in more than happy beachgoers each summer. For centuries, the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands have been home to loggerhead sea turtles. These spectacular creatures travel great distances to lay their eggs along the shore from May to August, with hatchings happening July through October. Many visitors book their stays to have front row seats to this bit of maritime magic, making summertime sea turtle time in the Brunswick Islands. With so many ways to take part in the action, it is easy to see why!

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Turtle loving travelers can venture to Ocean Isle Beach for the Barrier Island Gallery at the Museum of Coastal Carolina. The museum shares The Legend of the Loggerhead with an exhibit featuring a sand dune model complete with mother loggerhead turtle laying a nest and hatchlings emerging from the nest. Visitors can walk through the dune to check out interior views of the nest and watch a video about the lifecycle of Ocean Isle Beach’s loggerhead turtles. With one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast, the Museum of Coastal Carolina also gives guests an opportunity to see life-size loggerhead turtles and other native wildlife displayed.

sea turtle exhibit

Turtle Talks

The Brunswick Islands has sea turtle protection organizations in Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island. Many of the local sea turtle protection organizations offer free weekly family-friendly seminars, designed to share important information about loggerhead sea turtle protection efforts. These “Turtle Talks” are held in Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Oak Island late spring through summer. With different locations and times throughout the summer season, there are plenty of opportunities to entertain and educate your family about these magnificent creatures during your stay in the Brunswick Islands.  Visit our calendar of events for details.

Turtle Talks – Holden Beach

Every Wednesday, June-August, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Sunset Beach

Every Sunday, June 10-August 26, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Ocean Isle Beach

Every Monday, May 28-September 3, 3:30 p.m.

Every Tuesday, May 29-August 28, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Oak Island

Every Tuesday, June-August, 6:00 p.m.

baby sea turtles

Summer Internships

The Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization offers several week-long summer internships for middle and high school travelers ages 13-18. During this interactive experience, interns and their parents assist in monitoring sea turtle nests, collecting and logging sea turtle activity and by supporting visitor and resident awareness initiatives. Interested families can apply online. Insider tip: be aware of application deadlines to secure your spot on the sea turtle conservation team.

sea turtle nest

Visitor Tips for Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea turtles are a special part of the summer experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While sea turtle sightings are exciting, we all must do our part to support the loggerhead turtles’ journey and keep them returning to our beaches for the next 100 years. Check out our tips to creating a better beach environment for the sea turtles:

  1. Do not disturb a sea turtle as it makes its way to or from the ocean.
  2. Know how to spot a sea turtle nest and do not disturb. Nests will typically be numbered and marked by surrounding fencing.
  3. Lights may confuse the sea turtles, so avoid shining lights at the turtles and turn off all lights near the beach, including outdoor lighting.
  4. Be a responsible beachgoer and pick up all litter, fill in beach holes and remove your beach equipment.
  5. Avoid the use of flash photography in capturing a sea turtle sighting.
  6. Do not ever pick up a sea turtle.

For more information on ways to stay and how to plan a terrific turtle experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

The Best Mother’s Day Gifts for Moms that Love the Beach

Spring is here and that means it is time to get ready to celebrate that one very special lady in your life. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it is never too early to start planning how to show mom just how much you care. For moms that live by the motto “life is better in flip-flops” think beyond flowers this Mother’s Day and get coastal at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Check out our list of the perfect gifts for moms who always seem to have the beach on the brain!

Toast to Mom at Silver Coast Winery

Say “cheers” to mom this Mother’s Day with a trip to Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach. The Silver Coast Winery story began on Mother’s Day 2002 when owner Maryann Azzato was gifted a half-acre plot of land from her husband, Dr. Bud. A full family affair, Maryann along with her siblings and children planted the very grapes that would grow to become this local gem and Mother’s Day must. The winery offers a vineyard, tasting room and tours daily. Visitors can also enjoy the local art that adorns the walls of the winery’s art gallery.

waterfront dining

Take Mom to Dinner with a View

We all know the sun rises and sets with mom, so this year treat her to a view as spectacular as she is. The beaches and coastal towns of the Brunswick Islands are home to an incredible array of world-class dining experiences featuring both local specialties and global inspiration. Whether mom loves tastes of the Caribbean, signature Southern dishes, flavors of the Mediterranean or a fresh catch of the day, there are countless options to choose from. Our surplus of tranquil and scenic beaches creates seemingly endless opportunities for dinner and a coastal sunset. With multiple magnificent vantage points overlooking the Atlantic or the Intracoastal Waterway, it is easy to find a special dinner spot with a view as perfect as she is.

Traverse the Beach Searching for Shells

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of sandy beaches create an abundant playground for exploring. Take mom back in time to simpler days when summers were spent searching for seashells in the sand. Sift through the sand for some of the popular shells found along our shores. From angelwings to olive shells, true tulips to sand dollars, there is always a hidden gem awaiting your discovery. These little treasures are sure to brighten up mom’s day for years to come and give her a piece of the beach to hold close to her heart all year long.

Trek to the Kindred Spirit Mailbox

For a unique beachgoing experience, take mom to serene Bird Island for a stroll along Sunset Beach to visit the beloved Kindred Spirit Mailbox. For years the mailbox has been a must-visit spot for much-needed reflection. Visitors venture to the secluded mailbox to write their stories and share their love with the universe. Year after year people come by to add their letters, notes, thoughts, poems, prayers and wishes to the growing stack of journals found inside. This Mother’s Day, treat mom to a special spiritual experience and share your story with the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.

Treat Mom to One Unforgettable Beach Experience

NC's Brunswick Islands family vacationThe best way to give back to a beach-loving mom is to treat her to the ultimate beachgoing experience with an unforgettable getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Our peaceful beaches, incredible culinary scene, rich history, exciting events and popular attractions make a vacation to our coastal oasis a sure way to put a smile on mom’s face. There is no shortage of ways to show mom how much you love her at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, so be sure to seas every opportunity to make May 13 a Mother’s Day to remember.

For more information and ways to make a memorable experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

 

How to Hold a Family Reunion at the Beach

Brunswick Islands

It’s never too early to start planning a family reunion your loved ones will remember for years to come. With the area’s central Mid-Atlantic location, plenty of affordable accommodations, more than 45 miles of beautiful beaches, endless outdoor activities, and fairways as far as the eye can see, it is easy to see why hundreds of families host their annual reunion at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands each year. There is no better place to get the family together than at the beach, and the Brunswick Islands has offerings suited to every member of the family.

We spoke with Cheryl Summer, an Ohioan who has been visiting North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for more than 35 years. Cheryl originally started visiting the area with a few couples, and it has now morphed into a 20-person, two-house annual reunion with family and friends traveling from all over the country.

Check out Cheryl’s six tips on making the most of a family reunion, from planning to feeding a crowd:

  1. Find Accommodations That Can Hold Your Entire Family:

The Brunswick Islands has plenty of accommodations and meeting space that can accommodate families of all sizes! One of the most popular accommodations is a vacation rental home. Cheryl recommends booking one or more large houses, with spacious, equipped kitchens, lots of bathrooms, laundry facilities and plenty of areas to gather.

Vacation Beach house

  1. Plan Well in Advance:

Cheryl suggests that families start preparation for each beach reunion at least one year in advance. “We reserve the same two houses for two weeks every September,” she says. “We have families that stay for various lengths of time, and attendees from the current year get first pick on dates for next year’s reunion.”

  1. Organize and Delegate Shopping and Meals:

Feeding the entire family three times a day is no small feat! Cheryl suggests assigning each family a night to provide dinner. “They buy and prepare the main course, dessert and beverages,” says Sumner. Through the years, it’s developed into a friendly competition as each group tries to outdo the other. To save on labor, they use paper plates and cups.  “We don’t come on vacation to do dishes,” she laughs.

For the other meals and staples, Cheryl suggests that every person contribute $30 to the “kitty.”  At the beginning of the trip, Cheryl and her two organizing friends, Rosie and Debbie, make a grocery store run to purchase breakfast and lunch items, paper towels, zip bags, ice and other kitchen items.

“We designate one house for breakfast and lunch,” says Sumner, “and the other for dinner.” This provides the dinner crew a clear kitchen and enough prep time. “But both refrigerators have drinks, snacks and condiments for everyone,” says Sumner.

  1. Themes and Games Make It More Fun:

Perhaps the most fun and memorable part of each reunion is the changing theme. “We have a different theme each year. Once it was Christmas in July, another it was pirates, we vote on the next year’s theme at the end of the reunion” says Sumner.

Tuesday is designated as party night, with everything revolving around the theme, from costumes, décor, quizzes, music and activities. “The year of the pirate we created a treasure hunt throughout the house and onto the beach,” says Sumner. “Participants searched the house for clues, and followed a map onto the sand, where we had placed nine different ‘Xs’ to mark potential treasure.” These fun themed activities bring the family together in a fun and exciting way!

  1. Choose a Location with Many Activities:

Cheryl recommends that families pick a beach that’s not too busy and crowded, such as those in this southernmost corner of North Carolina. Yet the location should have activities for each age group. While each of the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island – has its own character and charm, they all offer plenty of activities for every age and interest. On the islands and the mainland are mouthwatering dining, museums and shops, boating, kayaking, fishing and championship golf, and riveting maritime and military history.

  1. Book Ahead:

While North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a well-loved, best-kept secret, it’s best to book a vacation beach rental, especially very large or oceanfront homes, a year ahead or at least by January if visiting from May – August, as many families like Cheryl’s come back year after year to build upon what they call their best vacation memories ever.

Come see why the Brunswick Islands brings families together! To plan your family reunion in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to learn more, visit www.NCBrunswick.com

Follow NC’s Brunswick Islands on social media at www.facebook.com/NCBrunswick/ and www.instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands/

 

Find Authentic Coastal Cuisine with Waterfront Dining in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

waterfront dining

No beach vacation is complete without enjoying fresh seafood with a view. Throughout North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, waterfront restaurants are serving up local fare in scenic settings. The area offers waterfront dining set along the Atlantic, the Cape Fear River, the Intracoastal Waterway and more, making for memorable meals for any getaway to the Brunswick Islands. Top it off with a visit to “The Seafood Capital of the World” in Calabash, and you’re in for a treat! Take your pick of the below waterfront dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Calabash seafoodThe Calabash seafood phenomenon began in the town of the same name, now home to several restaurants along the Calabash River. The folks at Waterfront Seafood Shack own their fishing and shrimp boats, and the fresh catches go straight to the seafood shack, ready to be prepared and eaten all in the same day. Visitors to this dining locale find themselves in the vacation mood with tiki-style décor and outdoor picnic tables for a true coastal dining experience by the water. Diners looking for scenic river views and an authentic Calabash seafood dining experience will find the perfect setting at Captain John’s Seafood House, Captain Nance’s Seafood or Dockside Seafood House Restaurant.

Moving along the coast, Twin Lakes by the Sea in Sunset Beach boasts panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Take in the beautiful sunsets while you dine on fried, sautéed, grilled, broiled or blackened seafood. Chef Alysa Watkins creates Calabash-style seafood with southern flare for guests to enjoy by the Intracoastal Waterway.

Waterfront dining view

On nearby Ocean Isle Beach, The Isles Restaurant & Tiki Bar sits along the ocean, serving fresh seafood in a family-friendly, fine dining atmosphere. Enjoy a summer evening at The Isles’ oceanfront tiki bar. Over on the Intracoastal Waterway, Sharky’s Restaurant is Ocean Isle’s oldest restaurant and features 200 feet of boat docking for easy water access. The menu includes a variety of seafood, along with unique twists on other casual dining favorites. Next door on the Waterway, the Ocean Isle Fish Company Restaurant features a tiki bar on its upper deck where diners can enjoy expansive views (including boats bringing fresh seafood right to the dock) while feasting on coastal favorites. Just opened in April, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille overlooks the water with spectacular sunset views each evening. Menu items highlight fresh, local seafood, and guests can also get on island time at the restaurant’s raw oyster and tiki bars. On the mainland, The View at Brick Landing Plantation offers Intracoastal Waterway views from multiple patios and the spacious dining room. The restaurant’s seasonal menu is full of fresh seafood options and traditional dishes.

Several restaurants sit along the Intracoastal Waterway in Holden Beach. Captain Pete’s Seafood Restaurant features Chef Matt Karas’ creative culinary takes with an elevated view of the Waterway, including outdoor seating. Famous for their incredible shrimp burgers, Provision Company is a laidback, open-air dining destination providing views of the boats passing along the Waterway.

Provision Company Holden Beach

Back on the ocean, Island Way in Oak Island is a fine dining establishment with 18 large windows for guests to enjoy the coastal views. Perfecting steaks and seafood, the restaurant is ideal for celebrating a special occasion. Find more panoramic views of the ocean at The Flying Fish Café, known for their innovative menu of local ingredients with “West Coast style.” On the other side of the island, the Fish House Restaurant offers fresh seafood and Intracoastal Waterway views. Just over the bridge to the mainland, The Dead End Saloon Fish Factory Grille is located at the South Harbour Marina on the Intracoastal Waterway. Bring the whole family to enjoy the dog-friendly patio, and the restaurant’s “fun” (rather than “fine”) dining and casual atmosphere. Also on the Marina, Joseph’s Italian Bistro serves award-winning cuisine with fantastic views of the Waterway. Try the fresh seafood options with the restaurant’s authentic Italian flavors.

waterfront dining at Fishy FishyHead over to Southport for views of the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway as they meet the Atlantic Ocean. The Historic Yacht Basin is a picturesque waterside area with a host of eateries featuring scenic water views, many accessible by both land and water. The well-known Fishy Fishy Café has true vacation vibes with colorful décor, fun cocktails and delicious seafood small plates and entrees. Be sure to catch a sunset from the outdoor deck! The menu at Yacht Basin Eatery includes homemade comfort food and North Carolina beers, all to be savored overlooking the stunning waterfront views. Next door, The Provision Company of Southport is a no-frills seafood shack offering quality seafood with unobstructed water views. Sit on the covered patio for a delicious meal, and feel the waterside breeze.

The Frying Pan offers yet another option for admiring a breathtaking waterfront view with a spectacular meal, including variations of classic seafood dishes with southern twists. Oliver’s on the Cape Fear, originally a ships chandler dating back to the 1700s, is now a fine dining restaurant with large windows facing the water, ideal for watching boats make their way up or down the river from the Atlantic. Sip on a seasonal cocktail at the restaurant’s outdoor patio just steps from the water.

The Inlet View Bar and GrillToward the mainland, The Grillin’ Crab sits along the river on Shallotte’s Main Street. The restaurant’s covered waterfront deck is positioned perfectly for sunset views over the Shallotte River. Featuring Southern Coastal Fare, the menu showcases fresh seafood, along with prime cut steaks, as well as casual lunchtime options. On the Intracoastal Waterway and Shallotte River, the Inlet View Bar & Grill has been family owned and operated for nearly 40 years. Diners can savor fresh seafood with the shrimp on the menu coming straight from the family’s boat.

Half the fun of vacation is discovering new dining spots to taste culinary creations and local flavors of the area. To explore all the dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/dining.

Get Your Groove on at Free Outdoor Concerts in NC’s Brunswick Islands

outdoor concert

The fun doesn’t have to end at the beach when the day ends. Bring your beach chair or blanket and the whole family to enjoy free outdoor music concerts scheduled throughout the summer in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.  Dance like no one is watching or just sit back and enjoy music of all genres from talented local bands to well-known regional favorites. You can catch a free concert practically every night of the week. And you’re certain find music you’ll want to tap your feet to from beach tunes, blues, rock, and soul to reggae, bluegrass, big band, and country. Visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events to get a complete schedule of concerts and bands.

Calabash Concert Series
Tuesdays, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (through August 29)
Calabash Town Park, Calabash

Sunset Beach Concerts
Wednesdays, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (through September 6)
Gazebo in the Village Park, Sunset Beach

Southport Summer Concerts – Thursdays in the Park
Thursdays, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 21)
Franklin Square Park and Garrison Lawn, Southport

Shallotte SummerFest
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. (July 6 through August 10)
Mulberry Park, Shallotte

Ocean Isle Beach Concerts
Fridays, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 8)
Museum of Coastal Carolina parking lot, Ocean Isle Beach

Oak Island Summer Concerts
Fridays, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (through August 31)
Middleton Park, Oak Island

Holden Beach Concerts
Sundays, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 3)
Holden Beach Pavilion, Holden Beach

No matter your musical taste, these summer concerts are sure to add to your summertime fun and relaxation. For a full list of the events taking place this summer and beyond in the Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events.